I John 3:18

All original content copyright Jessica Nicole Schafer, 2007-2016.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Autumns and Birthdays and What If

Sometimes I do that "what if" game, which I'm sure is a familiar thing to many. 
For the next few weeks, we're planning our sweet boy's big birthday bash.  The big 12!  In all of the planning, shopping, being excited for his big day, my mind wandered off for a few seconds recently.  What if?  If Momma were still here, she'd have already sent presents, the kind for him to open before his birthday.  She'd have shopped around and sent decorations by now, and other extra little things she knew we'd love.  She'd have said, "Can you believe that baby boy is going to be 12?!?"....we would be having a lot of conversations about that, and my sister's birthday, and her son's birthday, and my birthday.  What if.

I have a picture of her with our boy, it was the last birthday she was here for.  A few months later, she would breathe her last.  That was many birthdays ago, his third, to be exact.  That's one of the last times we were all together.  I remember it vividly.  It was when my sister lived near us here in Missouri.

*Death reminds us that life ends.  Life reminds us that memories last.*

In all of these months and years and seasons without Momma, I've noticed patterns.  I've noticed the pain is still here, and sometimes just as heavy as that very first day we got the news. 
I've noticed some birthdays and holidays are *not quite as bad as I'd thought they'd be*, and some regular days are pure hell. 

*Grief takes a lifetime to work out, and when you think you have a handle on one aspect, you find that life changes yet again...and you take a deep breath and dive back in, knowing you have new work to do.*

I don't think I've told anyone the following story, besides My Love.
One of the last memories I have of her was when we'd gone down to visit her and Daddy in Edmond, Oklahoma.  (That's how it was when she was here, if a few weeks passed, someone was driving somewhere, because we were all going to see each other somehow, no matter the hours on the road.)
I'd casually mentioned in chatting with her that I needed a few things, some clothes, etc.  She wanted to take me out and pay for all of it, and let me just get whatever I'd like.
I didn't let her, I didn't want to be a burden on them, so I kept telling her not to worry about it, even though she really insisted on taking me out.
Now, all these years later, I realize as a Momma myself that it wasn't a burden at all.  I wasn't a burden at all.  She enjoyed spoiling her family, all of us, even when I was all grown up with a family of my own.  I'd give anything to let her take me shopping today!

*When a Momma dies an early and unexpected death, so does the mothering of her child...no matter their age.  What we have to rely on forever after is memory.  But what we want is the gift of making new memories with them.* 

I've been thinking about all the questions I've been asked over the years from many well meaning people, mostly.  (If I'm being honest, sometimes, not so well meaning.)  I keep thinking of a very long time ago when someone asked me, "Why haven't you been able to just move on?"...

All I can think of is today, I am planning our son's 12th birthday.  Days after that, I'll be turning 36.  My Momma died when I was 27. 
This has been me moving on, I am moving on, and I will keep moving on.  All of these days, all of these holidays, all of these springs, all of these autumns, all of these birthdays, all of these anniversaries without her....I've been moving right along with them, living in every moment, laughing deeply, crying silently, singing loudly, and loving my family.

***The thing about grief is that it moves with us.***

It takes a lifetime of coping and hoping to deal with the death of those we love the most. 

May we love, always.  May we know that grief is a healthy response to love.